Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It Takes a Village. . .


I asked my sister and brother-in-law how many houses were in the North Pole village display in the atrium of their home. 

"A lot!" was their reply. 


 My brother-in-law created the mountain on which the houses are arranged. The cheerful display greets all who enter their home and is visible on four sides.


Several of the houses and accessories were purchased at half the normal price when a Riverton store was reducing inventory and/or eliminating displays. The bargains were too good to pass.

 It includes more than one ice-skating pond.


It took a holiday village to add a spark of nostalgia to the season.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Oddball Update

The Western Region Oddball Knitters have been busy. Below are the blankets that have been finished since October on which I had the honor to knit a section.

Spring Happens
started June 2013
Yankee Doodle Dandy
started August 2013
Pastel Blocks
started May 2013
Bubblegum
started May 2013
Snips and Snails
started January 2013
Splish Splash II
started April 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

Foreign Friday

Betty Moore
Clark AFB
December 1980
Betty and I lived in the same BOQ building, and she is the one who made all the arrangements and moved my belongings onto base while I was on vacation. She was a great friend and a lot of fun.

In 1980, Betty and I planned a Christmas trip to the Philippines and arranged for travel orders (TO). With the TOs we were eligible to travel on military planes on a stand-by basis. We got to Yokota AFB near Tokyo without any problem, but from there to Clark AFB in the Philippines only one seat was available. Betty told me to go on that flight, find a place for us to stay in base billeting and meet her at the airport the next day. It sounded pretty easy, so I flew ahead.

When I tried to arrange for billeting, I was surprised there was nothing available on-base due to a large training exercise and numerous airmen on temporary duty. Plan B was to find a place to stay off-base: that would have worked except, it was quite a distance. Plan C was to cry and beg the billeting officer to give us something (anything) on-base. Another teacher was traveling on to Guam and needed a place as well, so we cajoled the billeting officer in assigning us a trailer in a section of the base where married couples could stay. The trailer was a dump, but it was better than nothing. My "roommate's" plane left early the next morning, so I didn't even have a chance to say good-bye or to thank her for helping me find a place to stay.

I met Betty at the airport, and we settled into the tiny trailer for the week. We shopped off-base and on-base, and Betty found many treasures. The photo at the top of this post show the massive pile of boxes she shipped back to Misawa.

I purchased a double rocker made out of rattan. The shopkeeper assured me it could be disassembled and packaged in a box that could would be allowed on the returning plane.

Note to self: shopkeepers will say anything to make a sale.

When I returned to pick up the packaged rocker, I discovered it was huge! I was wracked with anxiety that the package would NEVER be accepted on the plane. The day of our departure, my fear was confirmed; however, the kind airman told me to ask the flight crew directly because they are allowed larger packages. Soooo, Betty and I schlepped the package (actually an awkward box) to the flight line, and I begged the crew to put the package on board the C-130, which they kindly did.

The C-130 is a massive plane, with a ramp in the back to allow large equipment to be driven on board. Sling or fold-down seats are arranged along the sides of the aircraft. Strips of regular airline seats were bolted in the planes to allow for more comfortable flying. The noise level in the large open aircraft is terrible, and everyone was issued earplugs upon boarding. C-130s were the primary transportation on most of my flights from base to base.

Betty did not like to fly and immediately fell asleep. Mid-flight, one of the kind crew members came and asked if I wanted to sit in the cockpit. What a fabulous experience, and one that I regret not having my camera handy. We were flying above the clouds, and the view was simply that - beautiful, fluffy clouds - it was breath-taking.

I returned to my seat when we began to experience turbulence. The passengers were told we would have to land at Kadena AFB on Okinawa due to high winds. That's when the grumbling began. Cranky, cranky people took their frustration out on the crew when we landed. Everyone was taken to the billet office and given a room for the night. The winds continued into the next day and the grumbling became worse because we could not fly.

Finally, we were given the go-ahead for travel on to Yokota AFB.

All the flights to Misawa were full, so Betty and I spent three additional days as well as Christmas in Yokota billeting.

When we were finally cleared to catch a flight back to Misawa, I had to once again beg a different flight crew to accept my bulky package. This crew was not as eager to transport the package, but they finally relented when I pointed out that the other crew had graciously allowed it onboard; however, my lovely rocker had become a millstone.

Mom and Brenda in the infamous rattan rocker
approx. 1986
I no longer have the rocker because Wyoming's dry climate is not favorable to rattan furniture, but I couldn't help but think about the helpful crew and the beautiful view from the cockpit when I used the rocker in my home for nearly 10 years.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

QOV delivery

Lea at Sheep Camp Quilts
accepts Stars of Valor
December 18,  2013 
Last week, I received a package from Nancy H. in WA, containing Stars of Valor, quilted, labeled and bound. Thank you, Nancy for being so generous with your time and talents during this busy season, and thanks to Pam for directing Nancy to my blog.

I laundered the quilt and made a pillow case out of similar fabric. On Wednesday, the quilt and case were delivered to Sheep Camp Quilts: the State QOV coordinator (Stephanie Logan) owns the shop and accepts the quilts for later distribution.

Stars of Valor
(front, back, and label)
Top pieced by Nancy S., Riverton, WY
Machine quilted and bound by Nancy H., Walla Walla, WA
Stars of Valor
(front)
Top pieced by Nancy S., Riverton, WY
Machine quilted and bound by Nancy H., Walla Walla, WA

Monday, December 23, 2013

Back in Time - Adding Tinsel

Mom adds tinsel to the Christmas tree - one strand at a time.
approx. 1969
I was thrilled to find some photos of my mother decorating the Christmas tree. She loved Christmas and took great pride the placement of the tinsel. I have no idea how many hours it took her to carefully place the icicles on the tree. The tinsel icicles were crinkled and not the straight, slippery ones sold today. Note that some of the glass ornaments can be seen on the upper branches.

Mom added the tinsel from the bottom of the tree to top.
In this photo she is nearing the top of the tree. 
I have no idea why the tree in the center of the room in this photo other than it was probably easier to work on the whole tree. The decorated tree was always positioned by the windows to my mother's right where the beige rocking chair can be seen.

The decorated tree must have been carefully maneuvered to its
spot in front of the window. Note the aluminum foil on the TV rabbit ears
 in the lower left corner. The Santa on the middle shelf was given to my
 mom. It was made from a hurricane lamp glass chimney, and the base
was a tuna can, covered with red felt. Most crafts, made in the late 60s
and early 70s were made with felt. 
While I love today's Christmas decorations and trees, I would love to see another tree decorated with individual, tinsel icicles. I didn't put up a tree this year, but when I do, I use individual glass icicles.

Do you add icicles or tinsel to your tree?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Foreign Friday

Senior Class
1980 - 81

Robert D. Edgren High School
Misawa AFB
Misawa, Japan

Back row: Sean Patterson, Lance Kirk, Bettina Quick, Raymond Turner,
Lynn Lackey, Carl Manning, Shelleen Martinson, James Brewer. Middle row:
Carmel Beasley, Jeff Mellot, May Cortezano, Carrie Fear, Noy Bussler,
Steve Naguillen, Peggy Reberry, Selena Arnold, Phil Wood. Front row:
Marble Christensen, Lee Williams, Jona Flynn, Cindy Mathie, Kat Heller,
Shelley Biggs, Emmanuel Bradford, Ray Marriott.

* * * 
I was the sponsor for this class, and after 32 years, two of these individuals still send Christmas cards and letters. I am truly blessed. 

Senior class party
Golf Course Clubhouse
Misawa AFB
Misawa, Japan
1980


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Back in Time - Pavillion Players

Community Dinner Theater cast
Pavillion Players
Summer 1995
(click to enlarge)
I think the name of this melodrama was Wildcat Katie Brown, but I'm not sure. This was the second or third play that I helped Nancy stage with the members of the community, who were known as the Pavillion Players.

Pavillion Players
As shown above, the first melodramas were held in the town park in a large, striped tent rented from Tom Youtz Ford. One night a wind storm nearly lifted the tent off the ground, and had people not held the tent poles it probably would have taken flight. Eventually, the plays were staged at Wind River High School.

The plays and an accompanying meal were usually presented two nights. One year, the food was served in pie pans that my sister Marilyn borrowed from Marie Callender's Restaurant in Denver.

Nancy found caterers for the events, and the cast sold tickets. One year, the proceeds were used to purchase stage lights for the high school drama program.

Another time, I used the PageMaker computer program to layout the play program like an old-fashioned newspaper, and we had it printed on newsprint at the Riverton Ranger (newspaper) office.

Working on these productions and with the Pavillion Players was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snowflake

Snowflake
Western Region Oddball Baby Blanket
started December 2013
Didn't I just say the Oddball group doesn't knit many all-white blankets, yet this is the second one on which I've knit in the last two weeks.

The cast-on edge is taped down to get a good photo of the stitch pattern used in first section. I used the Box Stitch on my four-inch section and sent the blanket on to Sara in Nebraska. 

Gladly, no actual snowflakes fell while this blanket was in my possession.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Back in Time - Visiting Santa

Evelyn, Marilyn, Brenda, Nancy
Frankenmuth, MI
June 1992 or 1993

I can't recall the exact year that my sisters, my niece and I travelled to Frankenmuth, MI, but I am almost certain it in was in the early 90s.
Frankenmuth is a tourist town, known as Little Bavaria and a lot of fun to explore. One store, Bonner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, is massive (the grounds cover 27 acres) and has every type of ornament, light, or decoration that you can imagine. There is even a Silent Night chapel, a replica of the original Silent Night memorial chapel in Austria.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ringing in the Season

Bell Choir
Trinity Lutheran Church
Riverton, WY
December 15, 2013
Twelve women played a variety of Christmas music prior to yesterday's service, and it was a lovely way to set the tone in the sanctuary.

Some of my favorite Christmas carols: Joy to the World, Silent Night, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, but I could go on and on.

What's your favorite Christmas carol?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Foreign Friday

Private Cemetery
Japan
Autumn 1979
This private cemetery was located on the side of a harvested rice field.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fragile Treasures

My favorite Christmas ornament
approximately 1975
This fragile ornament is one of my favorites: I love the color and the peaceful scene on its surface, and I've photographed it many times over the years.

When I was growing up, the boxes of Christmas decorations were stored in the attic, a large unfinished space that was cold in the winter and could only be accessed through a small opening in the hallway ceiling just outside the bathroom door. Getting the boxes down from the attic was always the exciting beginning of the holiday and required a ladder: some years a straight ladder was brought into the house, but eventually, a step ladder was used. When the garage was built in the 70s, the tattered boxes were stored on the shelves and carried into the house. Storing the boxes in the garage made getting them easier, but it took some of the anticipation out of the process.

Even though some ornaments were never used, my mother kept them in the boxes, and each year, we sorted through the collection housed in the containers.

Opening the boxes of decorations was exciting and memorable. The tattered boxes contained a mixture of old and new: red and kinky, celluloid garland too old to use but never thrown away; dull-red, glass ornaments (the size of large grapefruit) that no longer had metal tops for hanging; boxes of glass ornaments of various sizes, some with stripes, some with paint, some plain; plastic prancing reindeer with broken legs and a plastic horn that had long ago lost its noise maker - despite their broken state, they were propped on the evergreen branches; ceramic ornaments (Raggedy Ann and Andy - see next photo) that my sister painted with each grandchild's name. Selecting fragile treasures from the boxes, my mother transformed the tree to a thing of beauty each year.

Marilyn painted a Raggedy Ann for each granddaughter and a Raggedy
Andy for each grandson. The ornaments hung on Grandma Rosie's tree
for many years. (photo taken approximately 1975)
Out of all my mother's ornaments, the blue one shown in the top photo was my favorite. I searched the tree each year until I found it, tucked near the truck. When my mother died, it was the ornament that I wanted for my own tree. It is now stored in a different box in the guest bedroom closet along with my eclectic ornament collection: Hallmark ornaments, travel souvenirs, bead garland, and a turkey wishbone. It is the ornament that I treasure the most and the presently the only traditional ornament I own.

Connie (Far Side of Fifty) has quite a collection of traditional and authentic Shiny Brite ornaments. Even though Connie has photos of her exclusive Shiny Brite tree on her blog, I would love to see it in person.

Do you have a treasured ornament?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Before They Disappear - Pay Phone

Pay Phone
Lander Valley Hospital
Lander, WY
Late Summer 2013
I am still on the look-out for pay phones in my community.

This summer, Sheila spotted this one at the Lander hospital. We had just finished visiting a friend who was in the ICU when Sheila pointed to the phone tucked in a small cubby hole. It's a good thing Sheila has sharp eyes and that my cell phone is capable of taking photos, or I would have missed documenting this vanishing American icon.

Previous posts about pay phones, can be seen here.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back in Time - Picking Up the Milk

Dean Weitzel
Milk Truck Driver
approximately 1976
I can't remember when the Fremont County dairymen joined the Mountain Empire Dairymen Association (MEDA), but it was some time in the mid to late 60s. Dairy herds were common and numerous in Fremont County at that time. In the 50s and early 60s, the milk was trucked and processed and distributed by the Morning Star Dairy in Riverton.

Milk in the bulk tanks was tested before being picked up by the truck driver. Note in the photo below the driver has a sample bag in his right hand. If a producer's milk did not pass the inspection, the entire tank was dumped or arrangements were made for it to be sold to a cheese manufacturer in Afton, WY. I don't remember any of our milk being dumped or sold for cheese.

With so many dairies in Fremont County, milk was in surplus, so the local producers and those from Park County joined MEDA, which included Colorado dairy farms. Fremont and Park County dairies transported milk to Denver twice a week, a one-way journey of 366 miles from Riverton and 513 miles from Powell. The cost of transport was deducted from the farmer's checks. When the Morning Star Dairy closed, all the milk was trucked to Denver.

Dean visits with Rich (my brother) while the milk is pumped into the
truck. Note the hose from the truck going into a small door in the barn
 wall. That hose was attached to the bulk milk tank inside the barn. The
spiral wire plugged into the barn outlet is for the truck's electric pump.
Dean is holding a milk sample in his right hand: milk in the bulk tanks
was tested for quality and butter fat content and the price paid for the
milk was determined by those tests.  

Dean was one of the drivers who picked up milk from the farm. Two different trucks were used, one with a semi trailer tank and one with a fixed tank.

Fixed tank milk truck
(Penny on barn step)
approximately 1978
Usually, the truck picked up the milk from the surrounding farms and headed for Denver after the last farm on the route. My mom and brother did not want to cause any delays in that schedule and sometimes pushed up the start of milking a bit on the days the milk truck was expected. 

When I read that Dean recently passed away, I searched for photos of him and the truck, and was pleased to find the ones in this post.

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